How Language is Processed

Language processing is complex. It is more than listening or understanding and is dependant upon the integration of a whole range of skills which include:

  • Hearing
  • Sustaining attention
  • Discrimination
  • Holding auditory information in memory
  • Sequencing skills
  • Vocabulary
  • Awareness of grammar
  • Reasoning and Thinking
  • Making links between words and ideas
  • Associating new information with old
  • Putting the whole thing together to make sense
                     … and it all happens AT SPEED! …

Making sense of the continuous stream of sound which constitutes the speech of another person can be extremely challenging because auditory information is so fleeting and short-lived. For this reason, many children with comprehension/processing difficulties will need to rely on visual prompts and clues  These can be an essential support for learning [e.g. Jolly Phonics Scheme for sound awareness, Makaton signing for early  comprehension].

Visual supports will be routinely available in nursery and reception classes. Similar supports may need to be  made available for pupils even in Key Stages 1,2,3 and 4 with processing difficulties. This is often referred to as letting the child “see what you say”.

In order to cope with the busy (and often noisy) classroom, children will benefit from a range of teaching strategies to support processing and comprehension.

These can be divided into

  • Things the teacher and support staff can do
  • Things the pupil can do

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Last updated: 22 October 2015

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